Hindrances of Prayer
If you are like most believers, you find that prayer, in spite of its amazing, blessed benefits, is a difficult spiritual duty to fulfill. There are some important reasons why prayer is so often difficult for us – what we might call hindrances to prayer. The main hindrance is the general presence of sin. And the other most common hindrances to our prayers are:
- Carnality And Unconcern – When we were born anew, God imputed to us Christ’s payment for sin’s penalty (1 Peter 3:18) and removed sin’s controlling power (Romans 6:5-7; Galatians 2:19-20), but the tendency to evil remains within us. One word that best characterizes our flesh is “selfishness,” the tendency to focus on our own will and interests and against God’s. Such self-centeredness easily hinders us from praying as we ought. Our carnal selfishness also makes us totally unconcerned about the needs of others. Before you go to the Lord in prayer, make sure you are not being indifferent to the needs of others, or praying for yourself as if you were isolated.
- An Unforgiving Spirit – An unwillingness to forgive others is another specific sin that can hinder prayer (Mark 11:25). Before God will hear your prayers, you need to forgive anyone who has offended you. We cannot truly worship God or expect Him to answer our prayers if we harbour resentment or bitterness for someone. How can we ask God to pour out all of His love, mercy, and grace on us – undeserving sinners – if we won’t forgive and be reconciled to another undeserving sinner? When we refuse to forgive we also forfeit the inner peace, spiritual power, and spiritual growth that the Lord would otherwise grant through our prayers. Before you ask God to be gracious to you, do some self-examination to make sure you are treating others with the same kind of gracious, forgiving favour you want to receive from God.
- Doubt – (James 1:6-7) God requires the right kind of asking when we come to Him in prayer. We must ask without doubting, which means our prayers have to be accompanied by authentic trust in God’s character, purposes, and promises. Prayer that doesn’t trust the Lord’s promises, or doubts that He is trustworthy or able is a terrible affront to God.
A Prayer Of John MacArthur:
Father of the Lord Jesus, help us to approach You with deepest reverence, not with presumption, and not in servile fear but with holy boldness. You are beyond the grasp of our understanding but not beyond our love. And You know that we confess to love You supremely for You are supremely wondrous, good, perfect, and glorious. Our hearts melt at the love of Jesus, our brother and our Saviour, our Lord and our friend, our eternal bridegroom, dead for us, alive for us. We are overwhelmed that He is ours and we are His. He has given for us and given to us. And we thank You for the gift of Christ, and we offer in response our worship.
Scripture verses mentioned:
1 Peter 3:18 - For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
Romans 6:5-7 - If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Galatians 2:19-20 - For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Mark 11:25 - And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
James 1:6-7 - But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.